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DLP Portable Projectors VS. Cheap Single-Panel Pico Projectors: 2021 Portable Projector Buying Guide

3 features you can't ignore before buying a mini portable projector

How to choose a DLP mini portable projector instead of a single-panel LCD.

Mini projectors have started to crop up all over the market. With prices much more affordable than their traditional full-size counterparts, they are more convenient and fun to take outdoors or share with friends. Many of these projectors include wireless streaming functionality, making them ideal for watching movies and TV series. However, not all mini projectors are created equal. You will find that the lower priced ones come at the expense of image quality and brightness.

To make the best choice when buying one, it’s essential to understand the basic specs that make for a great portable projector. Let’s talk about the two main technologies that power most mini projectors and the top three features you will probably want.

DLP Portable vs. Single-Panel LCD Pico Projectors

Of all the models and brands of mini portable projectors you might find on the market, 99% of them are DLP chips or single-panel LCD technology. The difference between these technologies is fundamental to the results you get from these types of projectors, check out our detailed article revealing the secrets behind the technology of portable projectors.

Single-panel LCD pico projectors are the cheapest of them all, that is because they use components that were not explicitly designed for projectors. They use LCD screens initially designed for smartphones, shine a powerful light through them, and use a series of lenses to project the resulting image on your screen. On average, only 4% to 6% of the light makes it through to the LCD and out of the mini projector.

On the other hand, DLP chips have been used by projectors for decades, including those in commercial movie theaters. DLP works by shifting microscopic mirrors that reflect light from a powerful lamp. Each of them forms pixels. Then, they pass the reflected light through a color wheel that adds the red, green, and blue that build all the colors. Finally, a series of lenses projects this light onto the screen where you see the images.

Considering that they work by reflecting light, instead of passing it through LCD panels, very little light is wasted in this process. This unique feature gives DLP chips their superiority when compared to LCD projectors. They are brighter, have better contrast, and produce much higher quality picture.

3 Features You Definitely Need to Look into

There are three key features you must consider when looking to buy a mini portable projector: brightness, portability, and overall image quality.

1. Brightness

Portable projectors are frequently used in improvised spaces where controlling the ambient light is not always possible. Therefore, ensuring your image will still look bright enough makes a big difference. The low transmittance of single-panel LCD projectors means they cannot compete with DLP mini projectors.

2. Portability

Taking the mini projector with you is one of the main reasons to buy one. Making sure that it is small, light, and still produces quality pictures is very important. Single-panel LCD projectors, especially those of higher resolutions, tend to be bigger. Consider whether an included battery is a good idea for watching movies outdoors.

3. Image Quality

A small projector doesn’t mean it has to be a bad projector. Having good quality projection depends on the technology, light source, and optical elements in the lens of the projector. Buying a portable projector like GS2 or GV1 from a reputable manufacturer like BenQ will mean better materials and quality. DLP is the technology used by commercial cinemas and home theater systems which gives the best results


Feature DLP Portable Single-panel LCD Pico



DLP Portable

DLP is highly reflective.


Single-panel LCD Pico
Only 4%-6% light transmittance.



DLP Portable

DLP chips are smaller.


Single-panel LCD Pico
LCDs are 5 to 6 inches big.

Image Quality


DLP Portable

DLP is a professional technology.


Single-panel LCD Pico
LCDs are repurposed from smartphones.


If you are considering getting a mini projector, choosing DLP portable projectors will give you better performance than single-panel LCD pico projectors. Whether you want to stream movies from Netflix or your iPhone or Android phone, you shouldn’t sacrifice image quality for portability. DLP portable mini projectors (especially powered by LED lamps) offer you high brightness, better contrast, and fantastic viewing experiences in a palm-sized package.


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